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Affordable lower leg prosthetic

Low cost prosthetics made from a combination of 3D printed material and Nike Grind reused materials for amputees in developing countries

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There is about 32+ million amputees in the world today according to the International Society of Prosthetics and Orthotics. Around 80 percent of whom live in developing countries and don’t have access to modern prostheses. Also, most prosthetics manufactured today are made from materials that costs over six time the average income of a family living in a developing country. (Source

There are several new technologies that is only just now beginning to make its way into prosthetics and making it more affordable, customizable and available to people living in areas with limited access to artificial limbs. Among these technologies are 3D printing and 3D scanning.

Traditional prosthetics comes with a range of challenges; the level of complexity, the specialized labor needed to create them, the cost of materials and the follow-up with specialists to make sure that the prosthetic fits correctly and other general maintenance. Also, traditional prosthetics also come looking very “mechanical” only adding to the sense of loss and might have a negative psychological impact and lower self-esteem. 

Our proposal is to combine 3D printing technology with the Nike Grind materials to create low cost prosthetics for developing countries. 3D printing has several advantages in this area; it’s low cost, manufacturing is flexible and can be on-demand, new manufacturing sites are easily deployed, it’s scalable. Also, by 3D printing the prosthetic we are able to accomplish aesthetically pleasing designs at a very low cost. As a reference see the amazing work of William Root - 

We will start out by doing a lower leg prosthetic to get started and then expand to doing upper leg prosthetics and other prosthetics as well. Lower body limbs are among the most common amputees at least in the US where they make up almost 90% of the total amputees (Source). 

The reason why Nike Grind is suitable for this kind of product is that it already have some of the qualities and features that are needed for creating a prosthetic. This is being explored more in the sections below.

We envision a phased rollout of these low-cost prosthetics that includes prototype+testing, designing, partnership building, on-site manufacturing and distribution. More on the phased roll-out in the “How will you scale the idea” section.

Which Nike Grind materials will your idea utilize?

  • Rubber Outsoles
  • Rubber Flashings
  • Rubber Granulate
  • EVA Foam Flashings
  • EVA Foam Sheets & Blocks
  • Laminated EVA Foam
  • Laminated PU Foam
  • Mixed Apparel Textile
  • Full Grain Leather Scraps
  • Split Leather Scraps Coated
  • Synthetic Leather

How specifically will these materials be incorporated into your solution?

Rubber Outsoles and Flashings will be used for new soles for the artificial foot to provide friction and cushioning, just as you need for any other shoe. Rubber granulate might be harder to reuse in the actual prosthetic at first, especially in it’s unprocessed form. But could potentially be used as a packaging material. The EVA Foam Sheets and Blocks will be used for cushioning where the residual limb meets the prosthetic in the socket where the cushioning and moisture-wicking qualities of the material come in handy. The blocks will also be used to form the artificial foot of the prosthetic. We also envision that the foam blocks will be cut into discs that will provide simple, flexible ankle joints. The PU Foam will be used as an outer laminat cover of the 3D printed exo-skeleton of the prosthetic, providing a nice and clean looking finish. Textiles will be used to make the limb sock used to protect the human skin from the prosthetic. The Leather will be used (in combination with textiles) for straps and belts to strap on the prosthetic as a suspension system as well as strapping on the sock.

Please include a visual (can be either 2D or 3D) representation/prototype of your concept. (required)

See concept/idea overview with description of our proposal

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Research & Early Testing

Describe your target market. Who will benefit from your product?

Developing countries with limited access to medical help and especially prosthetics. War-zone and conflict countries where there’s also limited access to medical help.

How will you scale your idea? Please describe in detail your plan to scale your concept.

We will spend the majority of time in the “refinement” phase designing and prototyping a crude model of the entire prosthetic, all 3D printed. Using the Nike Grind samples, getting a better feel for the materials, we will decide how and for what they can be used and if our initial ideas for their usage is adequate. During the refinement phase we will also reach out to different organizations, hospitals and medical practitioners to gain more knowledge into the area. After the refinement phase we prototype, design and manufacture the “standard” parts of a prosthetic lower-leg using both 3D printed parts and reusing Nike Grind materials as described previously, using the knowledge and learnings from the refinement phase. These parts include the lower leg, simple ankle joint and foot. We also design a range of sockets that would fit most people (think S, M, L, XL). These would be prototyped and tested here in the US. Further phases can be seen in the process overview attached.

How is your idea innovative?

We're using an emerging technology combined with reused material to create a low cost solution to a known problem. By enabling on-site manufacturing we are creating an innovative business model that will improve lives for people who needs it in development countries.

What inspired this idea?

When people are unable to fully live their lives, eg. unable to walk due to a missing leg, the loss of dignity and human/social capital is enormous. Combined with the fact that most of the worlds amputees lives in places with limited access to prosthetics is a problem that needs to be addressed.

Tell us about yourself and your team. What is your background and experience?

David Reeckmann and Tobias Christensen. Both founded several companies, experience with design, manufacturing, development, project/product management, 3D printed design patent-holder.

In what city are you located?

San Francisco

In what country are you located?


Please describe how becoming a Top Idea will support the growth of your concept.

We will need input to many aspects of the design of the proposed prosthetic; the physical design, how prosthetics are used today, market insights, discussions around feasibility, and how much of this should be made using Nike Grind materials or how we could utilize or combine this idea with other ideas.

This inspired (1)

Nike Grind Lotus Tec®


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Photo of Lauren Ito

Hi David,

A reminder that the ideas phase of this Challenge closes in less than one hour, at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time. Please have your submission updated by this deadline with content to all proposal questions complete.

Excited to have you in the Challenge!

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